As a freelance writer who has attained a modest degree of success (and I mean modest), I often get asked for advice from those who also have “The Dream.” Being a published novelist may seem impressive, and perhaps even glamorous, but the reality is far from it.
First, I am not rolling in the dough. Even with several titles to my name up on Amazon, if I ever make enough in royalties to pay the monthly electric bill, I'll be doing the happy dance. The average nonfiction title, for example, sells around 250 copies a year and 3,000 over its lifetime. By the time the distributor (Amazon, for example, takes a huge chunk out of a book’s sales) and the publisher get their piece of the pie (both of which are rightly due them, considering their part in getting the book out there for readers), there’s not as much left for the writer as you'd think.
So I don’t write for the money. If I want to make a living at this, I have to write a lot for a variety of markets and branch into speaking, teaching and mentoring/coaching, which I have. But I still don’t make enough to support myself.
Second, I’m not sitting pretty in some ivory tower eating chocolate, drinking tea, and pounding the keyboard as the words flow out of my creative muse. It’s more like staring at a blank screen and wringing words out of a stalled brain—then deleting them, rewriting and deleting and rewriting and deleting ad nauseum. Some days I hate what I write, and I question the call. Some days I despair.
Don’t get me wrong—there are times the words flow, the characters take over, and I get lost in the story world. But believe me, I have to endure many sessions of angst before the muse decides to dance and I experience a high like no other.
Then why do I write—if it’s W-O-R-K and it really doesn’t pay in dollars and cents?
Because it’s what I’m called to do. It’s what God has gifted me to do. And I must obey the call and develop and dispense the gift.
Today’s Scripture readings tell of two responses to God’s call: Jonah’s first response when God called the prophet to go to the wicked city of Ninevah and “preach against it” and the four whom Jesus called to “Come, follow Me.”
We have the same choices today when God calls us: to run the other way, as Jonah did (and we know God didn’t let him off the hook), or drop what we’re doing and obey.
God doesn’t always call us to leave our homes and everything familiar to preach the Gospel in faraway lands. Some are called to the life of a missionary. Some are called to minister where they are with what they have—to do the best they can with what they have when they have the opportunity.
But He does call each of us to three things—to know Him, love Him, and fulfill His purpose for you in this world.
What will be your response?
Dear God, sometimes, like Jonah, I want to run the other way when You call. I feel inadequate, scared, vulnerable. Give me the courage and conviction of the disciples who dropped everything and followed You—and consequently turned the world upside-down for You. Amen.
More tea: Read Jonah 1:1-3; Mark 1:14-20